Military Wiki
Naval officer ranks
Flag officers:

Admiral of the fleetFleet admiralGrand admiral
AdmiralGeneral admiral
Vice admiralSquadron vice-admiralLieutenant admiral
Rear admiralCounter admiralDivisional admiral
CommodoreFlotilla admiral

Senior officers:

CaptainCapt at seaCapt of sea and warShip-of-the-line Capt
CommanderFrigate captain
Lieutenant commanderCorvette captain

Junior officers:

Captain lieutenantLieutenantShip-of-the-line lieutenant
Frigate lieutenantLieutenant (junior grade)Sub-lieutenant
Corvette lieutenantEnsign

Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, generally being the highest such rank present in any particular country. Its most notable use was in Germany — the German word is Großadmiral.


In Bourbon Restoration France, the rank was an honorific one equivalent to that of marshal in the French Army.


In the Imperial German Navy, the rank was the equivalent of a British admiral of the fleet or a United States fleet admiral. It was created in 1901, and like field marshals its holders were authorised to carry a baton.[1]

World War I

German grand admiral's sleeve insignia (1939-1945)

German grand admiral's shoulder insignia

Alfred von Tirpitz in the uniform of a grand admiral

Before and during World War I, the following men were made grand admirals of the German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy):

World War II

Before and during World War II, the following men were made grand admirals of the German Kriegsmarine:

  • Erich Raeder, then-Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine, was made a grand admiral on 1 April 1939
  • Karl Dönitz, commander of the U-Boat fleet and later successor to Adolf Hitler, was made a grand admiral on 30 January 1943 upon succeeding Raeder as Commander-in-Chief.

The Kriegsmarine also used the rank of general admiral (Generaladmiral) which was senior to a full admiral, but junior to a grand admiral.


The rank of grand admiral (in Italian, grand' ammiraglio) was created by Benito Mussolini in 1924. It was established primarily to honour Paolo Thaon di Revel, who had been head of the Italian Regia Marina during World War I — he was the only person to be awarded the rank. It was equivalent to marshal of Italy in the army and also marshal of the Air Force.


Anton Haus, commander of the Austro-Hungarian navy for part of World War I, was given the title of grand admiral (Großadmiral) in 1916. No other active-duty officer (except members of the Imperial family) was ever given this rank (although Haus's immediate successor, Maximilian Njegovan, was promoted to grand admiral on the retired list in 1918).

In popular culture

The rank of grand admiral also has appeared in science fiction literature, most significant of which is the literature of Star Wars. The Galactic Empire's Grand Admiral Thrawn, of the Timothy Zahn novels, is one such science fiction character who held this highest of naval ranks.


  1. The Times, 1 January 1901.

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